Posts Tagged ‘Westgate’

Subway pulls the plug on Westgate

August 7, 2014
Wastegate subway closed

Wastegate subway closed

subway Notice of Store Closure

subway Notice of Store Closure

An example of the nonsense from imbecile leader of Rushmoor:

Successful initiatives such as Westgate and changes in the way people shop are providing new opportunities for the town and contributed greatly to the success of the bid. We are very pleased that this money has been secured for investment in Aldershot town centre.

When you make statements like this, you lose all credibility.

Westgate has been described as many things, but successful initiative is not one of them. It has had dire consequences on the town centre, retailers are suffering, look at the number of boarded-up and closed shops, retailers call it Wastegate.

Even in its own right, Wastegate is not a success. Walk through daytime and note the empty chain eateries. Every ten pound spent in one of these eateries, is ten pound not spent in the town centre, it is ten pound not recycled within the local economy, were it spent with local retailers.

The cinema, when a long awaited cinema opens in Farnborough, so far over a decade late, will see the bums on seats halve.

It was therefore only a matter of time before one of the chain eateries pulled the plug on Wastegate, now called and please do not laugh, Westgate Leisure Park. Subway has closed, all signs removed, a notice on the door advising go to the Subway in the town centre.

For many, with the large number of empty and boarded-up shops in the town centre, poetic justice.

Who will be next? Eventually around half will close, maybe viable for those remaining. If they cannot survive now, with overspill from the cinema, they will not survive when the cinema opens in Farnborough.

Westgate revisited one month on

November 26, 2012

One month since the ghastly Westgate development opened, the final death blow to Aldershot town centre.

Morrisons cafe: Big breakfast, no egg, toast instead, find a clean table, food on the floor, felt sick afterwards.

Useless security guard who last week stood idly by and let watch a fight take place, has not been fired. Talking to one of the check out staff she said he stood idly by did nothing had not a clue what to do.

Store almost empty. Not busy as the first week, the only week it has been busy.

Still no signs directing from Westgate into the town centre.

At the top end of Union street, blocked off, no street lights, steps to the side hidden in the dark. I nearly fell down them, and I knew they were there, having almost fallen down them last Thursday. Someone is going to take a nasty tumble. If they do, I hope they sue the Council.

Looking down Union Street dead, I could count on one hand the number of people, OK two hands, but no more than that.

WHSmith: No NeverSeconds</em>, not a clue what it was, not even showing on their system!

A cold wet miserable day.

Westgate three weeks on

November 19, 2012

Westgate is an ugly retail development on the edge of Aldershot town centre that is killing the town centre.

Three weeks on, how is it fairing?

The first week, Aldershot dead, the windy plaza more people than in the town centre, Morrison’s packed, more people than you would see in Aldershot in a year.

Since then, Morrison’s not busy, the windy plaza turned into a building site as the paving slabs dug up and relaid, last week awash with water.

Today, the windy plaza neither awash with water nor a building site. The work on the fast food restaurant chains which line the plaza due to open next month appears to have all but stopped.

Morrison’s all but empty. The staff seem no better than Asda, begs the question where do they dredge them up from, but then it is Aldershot.

Morrison’s cafe. No scampi, choose something else, then when something else chosen, told there is scampi.

It was disgusting. They must work really hard to make food this bad. At least there were a few clean tables, which makes a pleasant change.

A woman agitated, aggressive and turning violent. The cafe staff told to call security. They look at each other, anyone know where Steve is? No one does anything. I then spot a gormless looking security guard standing about ten feet away, doing nothing. I tell the cafe staff. They tell me if I am that bothered go and deal with it myself.

This goes on for abut 20-30 minutes whilst I am eating my disgusting scampi and chips (of which I leave half as so disgusting). It appears to be a woman with mental problems and a carer, at one point hands around the throat of carer.

Security guard gets bored watching, wanders off, comes back, then wanders off again. Eventually comes back. Seems more interested in chatting up checkout girl.

People are being endangered, objects thrown around. Finally security guard goes over.

I walk around the store, pick up a few things. I chat to the check out woman. She said she and customers were at risk.

I ask for the manager and tell him what was happening. If the security man could not cope he should have called for help, Police or maybe people who deal with people with mental problems. I said I would fire security guard.

Manager said he would investigate and thanks me. I said if security guard lies, check CCTV and you will see incident and security guard idly standing by.

Something had been thrown, maybe a pot of sauce or mayonnaise. As I left, and this was at least half an hour after the incident, this was still spilt on the floor for anyone to slip on, no attempt had been made to clean up the mess.

Three weeks on, and still no signs from Westgate for the town centre. No sign of leakage, people walking from Westgate into the town centre. The town centre as usual dead.

As I passed through Aldershot on Saturday on my way to Farnham I noticed a few stalls in the street but no idea what for as no publicity. I learnt it had something to do with Christmas lights being turned on.

The developer for The Arcade has lodged an appeal against refusal of planning consent.

Westgate two weeks on

November 15, 2012

Passing through Aldershot last Saturday, the streets were all but deserted, whereas in Farnham, could barely move, such was the numbers of people on the street.

Monday, the windy plaza was awash with water. The building work stopped for the moment.

Scampi and chips in Morrison’s was pretty awful. The scampi very dark brown, either cooked too long or the oil was not being changed. Fish had the same dark brown colour. The peas were hard and uncooked, must have been frozen peas that had a glimpse of boiling water, they quickly turned cold. The chips were old, kept warm.

Find a clean table, then find a clean chair, food scraps covering the floor.

The impression given, no one cares, no one gives a damn.

Two weeks ago the Thursday street market was dead. Last week it picked up a little but had not back to where it was. This week, dead, the fruit and vegetable stall empty, though not as bad as two weeks ago.

Building work back in the windy plaza.

Staffing levels in Morrison’s falling, service poor. Following the initial interest in Morrison’s, people seem to have voted with their feet and gone elsewhere.

Beef at the cold cooked meat counter, 9p for a packet. What is it? Do not know. At the checkout scans as luncheon meat. On the hot cooked meat counter, refusal to sell an item singularly, even though individually priced.

Morrison’s are using temporary staff brought in from outside. One of the problems they have in Aldershot is finding staff who can speak, read and write English.

Revisiting Westgate

November 5, 2012


Westgate is indeed a comprehensive scheme that will be a fantastic asset for Aldershot and its residents. … all round it is great news and I’m delighted to see it opening. — Peter Moyle, council leader Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

It’s just a fantastic addition to the town and will be a huge boost to residents. … Westgate will serve as an excellent conduit to the town centre itself. — Andrew Lloyd, chief executive Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

Westgate, an ugly unwanted development on the edge of Aldershot town centre, parts of which opened last week, is entered up a flight of steps and into a windy plaza, the fast food outlets lining the plaza on both sides have yet to open.

In the windy plaza the paving slabs are already being dug up and relaid.

The drain running through the middle does not appear to be working as already being cleaned out.

There are some strange structures, a little over a foot high, difficult to know whether these are works of art or seats. Located in the middle of the thoroughfare, ideal trip hazards.

Either they have appeared since last week, or I failed to notice, wooden park bench seats. But why a strip of metal bent around the front of the seat? Ideal to rip trousers or skirt on.

Last week Morrisons was very busy, especially Monday when it opened. Today almost empty, people rattling around link peas in a pod, barely more than half the cash tills open. Begs the question what happens to the staff who were on the tills, are they sent home with no pay? Zero hours contracts? By the closed tills, a metal barrier at knee height, an ideal trip hazard.

Breakfast from the cafe very poor, marginally better than would get in centre of Aldershot, which is not saying a lot.

Walking down into the town centre from Upper union Street, into Union Street, and looking down into the town, the town empty, the street all but deserted.

There are still no street signs directing people from Westgate into the town. Deliberate?

I looked in the YMCA shop and was told the town centre was now dead, Westgate having killed the town. Looking out from the shop, the street deserted, as though in a ghost town.

For some shops, less than 10% loss of trade will be sufficient to put them out of businesses. Each time a shop closes, less reason to venture into Aldershot. At a tipping point, once one or two shops go, rapid domino collapse.

The only busy day is market day which pulls people into Aldershot. Last week the market was dead. The fruit and vegetable stall usually very popular was empty. It will only take a few weeks like this for the fruit and vegetable stall to pull out. If the fruit and vegetable stall pulls out, the market will collapse as the other stalls are selling tat.

Without exception, the local council is blamed for destroying the town.

Once again it raises big question the mentality of the leader of the council and chief executive to destroy their own town centre.

Death of a market

November 1, 2012
street market mid-September packed ... today deserted

street market mid-September packed … today deserted

Westgate is indeed a comprehensive scheme that will be a fantastic asset for Aldershot and its residents. … all round it is great news and I’m delighted to see it opening. — Peter Moyle, council leader Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

It’s just a fantastic addition to the town and will be a huge boost to residents. … Westgate will serve as an excellent conduit to the town centre itself. — Andrew Lloyd, chief executive Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

Aldershot has a very popular Thursday street market. Or maybe I should say had, past tense.

Today, it was all but deserted.

I walked from Upper Union Street down into Union Street where the market runs down the street to Costa on the corner, then around the corner to The Arcade.

As I walked down Union Street, I met a column of people heading the other way. It was like a column of ants. They were heading away from the market, towards Westgate and Morrisons.

Usually on a Thursday, market day, the street is packed, the only day Aldershot is busy, as the market is one of the few reasons to visit Aldershot. Today, though more people than an average weekday, it was all but deserted. Usually, there are people sat outside Costa, causing an obstruction, today no one.

I walked to the fruit and vegetable stall at the bottom end of the market. A very popular stall, usually very busy. Today a lack of customers.

I asked had it been like it all day? The lady serving said yes. Trying to put on a brave face, she put it down to half-term. She was wrong, school half-term there is always more people on the street.

I buy fruit and vegetables off stalls like this. It is of better quality, fresher and usually cheaper than days old fruit and vegetables in a supermarket. But, having been in Morrisons, and seen they were the exception, fresh produce (how long they will keep it up a moot point), I feared that it would hit stalls like this hard, and I was seeing my worst fears realised. A once busy stall, its customers down to almost zero.

I expressed this to the lady. She nodded, and said others had told her the same, very good quality in Morrisons.

I talked to a few stallholders. They were shell-shocked, they had never seen a day like it. Some wondered what was going on, others blamed Westgate.

One stall holder said he had run a stall in Aldershot for eight years and never seen a day like it. He said he would give it a few weeks, but if he had days like this, he would be pulling out of Aldershot and he expected the market to die as other stall holders would do the same.

I suggested he and other stallholders demanded a drastic reduction in rent. It was after all the council who had caused the loss of business.

I do not usually get to the market until mid to late afternoon, often catching the market as it is closing. Today I was early, late lunchtime early afternoon. The market would at that time of day be very busy, it was not, it was almost deserted. That I was earlier, market almost deserted, only served to emphasise how dire was the situation.

It is easy to see why local newspapers have falling sales. On the street was an intrepid hack from the Aldershot News with a photographer in tow. I assumed they were there to see the impact of Westgate on the town, but no, they would not know a story if it was staring them in the face, they were there to ask folk dumb questions, apparently they do this every week.

I even asked, were they there to cover the impact on the town? I pointed at the fruit and vegetable stall, pointed out that was an excellent photo opportunity, a normally busy stall with no customers, around which they could hang a story.

But they were not interested. Why were they not interested? Apart from the the fact they would not recognise a news story if they fell over it, could it be the advertising revenue Westgate is generating? Last week they had a puff piece on Westgate masquerading as news, how great it was for the town, uncritical regurgitation of what the local council tells them. If you cannot trust a local rag to do good, old fashioned reporting, then why buy it?

What motivates a local council to destroy its own town centre?


October 30, 2012
Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

Westgate ugly eyesore on edge of Victorian town centre

Westgate is indeed a comprehensive scheme that will be a fantastic asset for Aldershot and its residents. … all round it is great news and I’m delighted to see it opening. — Peter Moyle, council leader Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

It’s just a fantastic addition to the town and will be a huge boost to residents. … Westgate will serve as an excellent conduit to the town centre itself. — Andrew Lloyd, chief executive Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

Westgate is an appalling eyesore of a development literally on the edge of Aldershot town centre, totally out of character with a Victorian town.

At least that is how it looks from the outside, looking from the town centre. Within not a lot better.

Outside two blocks of stone causing an obstruction. Edge on, barely visibly, the stone similar colour and blending in with the paving stones. A hazard for anyone with poor eyesight.

Entry to Westgate is up a flight of steps (there is also a slope for wheelchairs and cyclists). This leads into a stark, windswept plaza. Freezing cold in the winter, very hot in the summer. The design is very reminiscent of old Soviet Bloc architecture.

Lampposts have at their base a raised block about a brick in height. An ideal trip hazard for anyone not looking where they are going or of poor eyesight.

None are yet open, when complete, the plaza will be lined either side with tacky fast food chain restaurants.

Through the plaza, to the left a broad flight of steps leading down into the plaza and a travelator that leads down to an underground car park.

The car park is free, time limited to three hours. If only three hours in Aldershot, then the place to park to avoid expensive car parks.

Wandering around the plaza, more people than would see in the centre of Aldershot.

Then Morrisons.

I am no great fan of Morrisons, I would usually place near the bottom with Asda and Tesco.

Walking in, I was struck by the size, the sheer number of people, and that it was open and airy.

There was more people in Morrisons than you would see in Aldershot town centre in a month, maybe in a year.

Wandering around I was struck that this was not a typical Morrisons. It seemed to be aimed to compete with Waitrose, but with Tesco or Asda prices. Lots of fresh produce, fruit and vegetables, fresh fish, raw meat, cooked meat, a bakery. The meat section was making sausages on the premises, the bakery preparing tarts using fresh fruits. Though on closer inspection the cheeses were not of the quality of Waitrose and you do not slice cooked meats then leave to dry out.

Morrisons has its only little café. A dumb system, queue at one till to order, then queue at another till to pay. This is the norm for Morrisons. Cakes are on open display for everyone to cough and sneeze over. Scampi, peas and chips, not very good, but then on the other hand par for the course for Aldershot where nowhere decent to eat.

I had a chat with a lady who was there as an advisor to Morrisons. She said, yes, this was a different Morrisons, they had opened a couple like it in Scotland. She called it a Store of the Future.

Leaving Morrisons, I wandered into the town. No signposts pointing into the town centre, only a few pendants flapping in the wind on lampposts.

Upper Union Street leads into Union Street. The pavement flows across the road. I realised I was walking into the road. Very dangerous.

The Morrisons is going to kill the centre of Aldershot dead. It is probably going to have a big impact on local supermarkets too, as far better. It will also impact on the fruit and vegetable stalls on the Thursday market, one of the few reasons to visit Aldershot. The fishmonger on the market is unlikely to survive.

Maybe there will be some trickle down into the town, though I saw no evidence of this. What was the centre of town now becomes the bottom end of town. Maybe the top end of Union Street, which is usually dead, will see a few more people.

I passed a Nepalese café with a girl outside handing out leaflets. I cannot see anyone going in it. It looked dirty, the door was wide open, meaning it would have been freezing cold inside.

For anyone coming in on the No 1 bus from Camberley, Frimley or Farnborough, access is easy. Get off at Princess Hall and walk up the steps. It needs a bus stop outside Princess Hall for the return journey.

A couple alighted off the bus with me, and asked where to go. I showed them. They also asked where was the town centre.

From Westgate it is not obvious where the town centre is.

It is unbelievable the local council has not erected signposts directing people from Westgate into the town centre. How many months have they had?

From Upper Union Street crossing the road into Union Street, there needs to be a pedestrian crossing, a zebra crossing, not so much to help people across the road (though that is always useful), but to actually alert people that they are crossing the road.

The fast food chains when they open will drain money out of the local economy. Morrisons may bring people in from further afield. There may be some trickle down of people from the development into the town centre but so far the local council has done nothing to encourage this. The only money flowing into the local economy will be from the minimum wage staff, and unless they were previously unemployed, will only have relocated from other jobs. A supermarket of this size destroys a thousand jobs in the local economy.

Aldershot is a deprived area, the town centre a slum of fast food restaurants, gambling joints, charity shops and large bars. A place most people avoid. The last thing it needs is yet more money drained out of the local economy.

The impression given is that the local council, the Rotten Borough of Rushmoor as it is known locally, is deliberately trying to destroy Aldershot. Somewhat perversely they are promoting this developmental on the front page of their website. Even more perverse that they were co-promoters of the development.

What local council wishes to destroy its own town centre?

Other actions indicate a desire to destroy Aldershot

The Arcade, what was the centre, but must now be seen as the bottom end of the town centre, is a plastic replica of a Victorian arcade that once stood on the same site. All the small retailers kicked out to make way for a large bar (Wetherspoon) and a large retail store (Poundland). An unwanted redevelopment that was not good for the town, and yet the planners fell over backwards to push it through on behalf of the developers. For once the councillors on the planning committee showed a bit of backbone and threw the application out.

If the tacky fast food chains kill off KFC and McDonald’s, then some good has come of Westgate.

What though of Aldershot?

The only way the town centre will survive is with specialist shops, something to bring people into the town, and yet these are the very businesses the local council has for years been doing its best to kill off.

The couple I walked though the plaza with, I asked them would they come from Camberley to any of the fast food chains. They said no, why would they come from Camberley for something that was in Camberley. They added all towns looked the same, with the same shops.

Aldershot has a town centre manager. But that is a non-job.

A town survives because of its hard working small retailers.

Aldershot needs a Master Plan, people with vision to draw it up, but that will not come from the council as they are without vision.

Aldershot bid for Mary Portas cash. They failed. But it would only have been frittered away. And the money available was less than a major retail chain would spend on a store refit.

Westgate also has a Travelodge and a Cinema. Begs the question why would anyone wish to stay in Aldershot. The cinema opened last week, just in time for the release of the new James Bond film Skyfall.

All Westgate does is relocate the centre of retail gravity away from the town centre and towards Westgate, whilst at the same time draining money out of the local economy.

Westgate is the local council delivering the final death blow to Aldershot as a viable town centre.